Africa, Birds & Birding, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Maputaland Beach Walk

The recipe: Fifteen glorious people and forty glorious kilometres of wide open sandy beaches of the Zululand or Maputaland coast. Years earlier I had hiked a section of the Wild Coast, far to the south.

Ten of us were walking; two were guiding – Jabulani and DC walking up and down the dunes ahead and behind to keep an eye on us; two drivers for our vehicles to pick us up at the end of the first and third days; and then there was one Shirley Carey: She plotted and arranged, cooked and drove, organised and made it all happen – well done Shirley! It was a great start to what I hope becomes a thriving ‘slackpacking’ enterprise: Introducing people to a magic, less-traveled part of the coast in adventurous, yet laid-on and comfortable style.  Put-Foot-Shirl in her optical blur Toyota sped us around to and from the hike start and end-points, and looked after us in style!

The vistas were spectacular, the weather varied from perfect to overcast and a cool stiff following breeze to a constant ‘irrelentless’ steady headwind on the last day. Thanks to a few overnight showers and spring tide the sand was hard and we didn’t get sand-blasted. We also had no scorching hot Zululand temperatures, for which I was grateful and relieved. Anyway, we pushed on irregardless under interesting skies.

Sodwana to Lala Nek – 40km of beautiful beaches and rocky shores
Jabulani scouts our route from up high

The recipe also included great meals, snacks and puddings, enough alcohol and plenty ice.  Come to think of it, it was quite saintly of us to leave the kitchen and hit the beach – we could easily have lurked in comfort! Another ingredient was laughter; lots of laughter; loud peals of laughter. Some ribald humour too; you wouldn’t expect that from ladies, would you? Nor snorting with laughter! But it was all there. It would be fascinating to know how many laughs-per-kilometer there were. ‘Many’ would be a conservative estimate.

A whiff of sulphur as the breakfast eggs are unveiled leads to gales of laughter

Now one would think if you went to a remote Maputaland beach, sallied forth in a 4X4 then walked fourteen km without seeing another soul on a deserted beach, that Retail Black Friday would have been escaped and no – zero, none – purchases would have been made. But one would be wrong. These ladies set off after a sweet potato and bought a dress! It’s a mysterious and powerful force, retail:

Shopping Sodwana, complete with photo-bombing shop assistant, plus prêt-à-porter frocks
Panoramas, some with people
Beach Walk Small Stuff, plus cows, which are larger

I find beaches fierce and exposed; trudge, trudge; I find forests peaceful and protective; peer here, peer there. On the Zululand Beach Waddle you get both: Wide vistas of sand and water with moving clouds, trudge trudge; balanced by the green peace of the forests and all the little things hiding in them; even a Jan’s Shovel-snout, a seldom-seen nocturnal burrower who lives just below the loose sandy surface, eating gecko eggs; he was dead; we wouldn’t have seen him alive, he’s shy like me; and also polite.

Forest small stuff
Flies at Mabibi – still to be ID’d

This expedition was supremely relaxing, but there was one very tough part of the trip: Driving out on the last day with four outspoken, astute, well-read and opinionated ladies as ballast in my non-4X4. I made the mistake of telling them we were going to drive on the Most Beautiful Road in Africa. When we finally got onto it and it was a little bit bumpy, swervy, twisty, sandy and their ballast started shifting, they twisted the story to say I had said “The Best Road in Africa”! So with every spin and rock and roll and wobble it was “Oof! So this is the best road in Africa? I’d hate to see the worst!” and other helpful comments.

That Beautiful Road along Lake Sibaya shoreline – pity the lake was so low

There’s Put-Foot-Lizelle in the bottom pic disappearing into the distance in her Landrover which – amazingly – didn’t get stuck. Oh, hang on, it did once. We had to dispatch Musa to find her.

And here’s that demanding committee in my poor Ford Ranger, discussing tactics:

Usually I’d end with a sunset pic, but we were drinking Cactus Jack, Six Dogs Blue Gin, Bubbly, Red, White and Rose wine, genuine Italian-made Lemoncello Ramaccio Pace and other stuff by then, so the sun had to set all by its own self. Here’s a rock pool pic instead: Oh! I’ll follow that with a blurry bird pic by Lou. You’d think with my binocs, telescope and bird book that we would have seen more than a few Sanderlings and a handful of Kittlitz’s plovers! – (BTW, the pics are from everyone – thanks!)

Di Fabricius, Lizelle Ramaccio Calvino, Mal Bell, Michelle Pace, Shirley Vorster, Joni Kirkland, Lou Kelly, Michelle Graven, Koos Swanepoel, Sheila Swanepoel – pic by Shirley Carey
Another Lou pic with internet-borrowed pics of Sanderling and Kittlitz’s plover
Africa, Family & Kids, Food, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Tembe Elephant Park

Yes, said TomTom, he’d join us! YAY! So we head back to Tembe Ele Park after nine years.

It rained and the sun shone and we had grey skies and then it rained hard. We ate well, drank a bit, got wet and had a lot of fun. Jess had a little wobbly when this tusker approached the vehicle, but he was chilled and just ambled past us.

Tembe Ele GIF

Tembe Ele Park-002

There was no wifi, but Tom simply set up my phone as a hotspot and ate my data, his problem solved.

It rained; It cleared.

Tembe Ele Park-001

Tembe Ele Park-003

Tembe Ele Park Feb2018 (250).jpg
There’s a webcam here: See http://tembe.co.za/

We had a lovely time and I do believe I’ll get Tom out to a wild area again. I’ll not rush it though, I’ll bide my time.

Tembe Ele Park Map Brochure.jpg

 

 

 

Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Travel, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Softie

I’m off on a four-day weekend to Ndumo, abandoning the kids.

Leaving for school today Tom spots we’re alone, no-one in earshot.

Gives me a big hug, leans his head against my chest, “I’m going to miss you Daddy. Don’t get hurt.”

Then he looks me in the eye with a grin, “Don’t get drunk, don’t get high, don’t get the munchies” he says and saunters off to school.

Ndumo was great. Dry but lots of birds around camp and the pans walks beautiful as always.

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Special sights:  Skeins of gyppos and spurwing overhead; A thermal of pelicans soaring; Retz’s & white helmetshrikes, nicators, tinkers, honeyguides and honeybirds, a trogon, robins, apalii, ‘peckers, spoonbills wading, glossy ibis, lots of others.

A glimpse of a suni in the sand forest was special too. Lots of crocs, heard the hippos but didn’t see them.

There are seven huts at Ndumo and there were 14 people plus me, so friends Charles and Chris moved an extra bed into their bungalow, shipped their wives off to the next door chalet and there I was, the newly-minted pensioner among the established pensioners. And probly the best-behaved. This lot had known each other for far too long and were teenagers all over again. Dermott Beck from Bergville in the 50’s knew the Reitz’s and had been operated on under chloroform by Dr Frank Reitz in Harrismith – as had I some 12yrs later!

Luckily a lone lady camping in a pup tent on her way to Mocambique joined us – making me only the 2nd-youngest in camp.

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Telephone numbers

Charles and Barbara Mason B 071 201 7118 C 082 824 7653

Jimmy and Gill  J 079 581 3682 G 082 853 4958

Dermot Beck  084 556 5725

Ian  082 548 4944

Flick  083 377 3288

Heather  082 468 4133

Howard and Colleen H 083 284 9093 C 082 785 9303

Pete

Ben and Chris Gibson B 083 564 3075 C 082 463 7421

Chris & Liz Wade

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Pre-launch instructions

We are able to do

I finally managed to contact Ndumu main office on 035 591 0058 and spoke to Bongani as Mr Chris was off.

Also cell numbers (never answered!!!) 072 672 8508 082 799 1491

Bongani suggests that we bring our own water 5 – 10 litres per person / couple as they do not always have enough for sale – we are able to boil water for drinking if supplies run out.

We are able to do a Pongola bird walk, a pan walk to Shokwe or Njamithi, the rhino walk area has been very dry but depending on the rain situation we may be able to walk there.

Take comfortable shoes, hats, water bottle, sweets, binoculars, camera, bird, tree or flower books, reading matter

Cost of Landrover trip: R240

Cost of walks R120

Cost of trip in own vehicle with game guard +- ????

In the past we’ve tried to do at least an early morning and an evening game drive during our stay, but it is optional (usually one a day) or however many you wish to.

Enjoyable to do a walk a day.

It is also lovely to just sit in the camp and watch the birds.

Please bring your OWN TORCHES

Can stop at an Ultracity / or Mkuze for lunch if you wish on the Friday

The previous times we’ve been at Ndumu we worked in pairs overseeing the catering etc per day which enables us all to have ‘time out’.

We used to buy the food for everyone and costs were shared – but the past two times we allocated meals to the 4 people overseeing the catering per day and we all took different items. It worked well as we each have a fridge in our unit to store food.

There is a cook and washer up who are quite adequate – Jabulani and Ginger. If you prefer you could do some pre-cooking at home and the cook could do the rice / potatoes / vegetables / salad or whatever.

Those on duty need to give the cooks the meat / vegetable etc before we go off for walk or landrover trips in the afternoon. They need to be requested to make a fire on the ‘braai night’

Whoever is providing the dinner for the evening also provides the serviettes, dessert or chocolates and candles if so desired.

Lunches – simple – suggest either cold meat or tuna mayo / salad / rolls / cheese or whatever (can use ‘heat and eat’ breadrolls or ciabatta)

THANKS FOR PAYMENT RECEIVED AGES AGO

For 1 chalet for 2 people: Fri and Sat night R700 per night x 2 nights = R1400

Ditto Sun and Mon nights R560 per night x 2 nights = R1120

Total = R2520

ie per person for the 4 nights R1260 or per couple R2520

The cheaper 2 nights are with pensioners discount.

Not sure if anyone has arranged to go to Tembe Elephant Park after Ndumu or for a game drive whilst we are at Ndumu – distance from Ndumu probably 35 minutes travelling

Tel: 039 – 9732534 0826 512 868

Spoke to Claudette (Westville) 031 – 2670144 who does the accommodation bookings.

Info R35 per vehicle R30 per person if in 4 x 4 able to do a ‘self drive’ otherwise to book at least 24 hours before with Claudette –

Cost R800 for landrover / for 8 – 10 persons and R100 per person – would be met at the gate. Drive 11am – 2pm

HAVE A LOOK AT TEMBE WEBCAM OR ZULCAM ON THE INTERNET – BEST TIME BETWEEN 11AM AND 3PM WHEN THE ELEPHANTS ARE AT THE WATER HOLE.

Please – none of the above is cast in stone and we are all flexible and open to any other suggestions.

Many thanks,

Chris